Otezla (apremilast) and Humira (adalimumab) are prescription drugs used to treat plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis in adults. Otezla comes as an oral tablet, and Humira comes as a liquid solution for injection under the skin.

Both drugs have other uses besides treating plaque psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. See the “What are Otezla and Humira used for?” section below to learn more.

This article explains the main ways that Otezla and Humira are alike and different. For more information about these drugs, including details about their uses, see the in-depth articles on Otezla and Humira.

There isn’t currently a generic version of Otezla. (A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication that’s made from chemicals.)

Humira is a biologic medication, which means that it’s made from living cells. Several biosimilars are available for Humira, including Hadlima, Amjevita, and Cyltezo. (Biosimilars are like generic drugs. But unlike generics, which are made for nonbiologic drugs, biosimilars are made for biologic drugs.) For more about Humira’s biosimilars, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Otezla contains the active drug apremilast. Apremilast belongs to a drug class called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way.

Humira contains the active drug adalimumab. Adalimumab belongs to a drug class called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers.

Otezla and Humira are used to treat some of the same conditions, but they each treat additional conditions as well.

Both Otezla and Humira may be used alone or with other medications to treat these conditions.

Factors related to the condition being treated may affect whether doctors prescribe Otezla or Humira. For example, each drug is used to treat psoriatic arthritis specifically when it’s active (causing symptoms). To learn more, see the in-depth articles on Otezla and Humira.

Some people may experience mild or serious side effects while taking either Otezla or Humira. The sections below list the possible side effects of these drugs.

For more information about possible side effects, see these in-depth articles on Otezla’s side effects and Humira’s side effects.

Mild side effects

Otezla and Humira may cause mild side effects in some people. The table below lists examples of mild side effects that can occur with these drugs.

OtezlaHumira
Back painXX
Abdominal painXX
Decreased appetiteX
DiarrheaX
Flu-like symptomsX
HeadacheXX
High cholesterolX
Injection site reactionsX
Nausea and vomitingXX
RashX X
Respiratory infectionsXX
Sinus infectionX
Urinary tract infectionX
Weight lossX
Fatigue (low energy)X
Insomnia (trouble sleeping)X

This table may not include all mild side effects of these drugs. For a complete list of side effects, see Otezla’s prescribing information and Humira’s prescribing information.

Serious side effects

In addition to the mild side effects listed above, serious side effects may occur in people using Otezla or Humira. See the table below for the possible side effects of these drugs.

OtezlaHumira
Allergic reactionXX
Blood disordersX
CancerX
DepressionX
Heart failureX
Lupus-like syndromeX
Nervous system conditions, such as multiple sclerosisX
Serious infections, such as tuberculosis and hepatitis BX
Severe diarrheaX
Severe nausea and vomitingX
Severe weight lossX
Thoughts of suicideX

Help is out there

If you or someone you know is in crisis and considering suicide or self-harm, please seek support:

If you’re calling on behalf of someone else, stay with them until help arrives. You may remove weapons or substances that can cause harm if you can do so safely.

If you are not in the same household, stay on the phone with them until help arrives.

Was this helpful?

Whether you have health insurance or not, cost may be a factor when you’re considering these drugs.

Keep in mind that what you’ll pay for either drug will depend on your treatment plan, your health insurance, and the pharmacy you use. And if you use Humira and receive your doses at your doctor’s office, you may also have additional costs for your office visits.

Both Otezla and Humira are brand-name medications.

There isn’t currently a generic version of Otezla. (A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication that’s made from chemicals.)

Humira is a biologic medication, which means that it’s made from living cells. Several biosimilars are available for Humira, including Hadlima, Amjevita, and Cyltezo. (Biosimilars are like generic drugs. But unlike generics, which are made for nonbiologic drugs, biosimilars are made for biologic drugs.) To learn more about Humira’s biosimilars, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

For resources that might help you save on the price of these drugs, see the cost articles for Otezla and Humira.

Otezla comes as a tablet that you take by mouth twice per day.

Humira comes as a liquid that’s given by subcutaneous injection (an injection given under the skin). It’s available in the following forms, all of which contain a single dose of the drug:

  • prefilled pen
  • prefilled syringes
  • vial (given by a healthcare professional only)

How often you’ll receive Humira depends on the condition you’re using the drug to treat.

Your dosage of either drug will depend on the treatment plan your doctor prescribes for you. Also, for either drug, your starting dosage may be different from the dosage you’ll take on an ongoing basis. And with Otezla, your dosage may be lower if you have kidney problems.

For more details, refer to the dosage articles for Otezla and Humira. Or talk with your doctor or pharmacist to learn more.

You may be wondering whether Otezla or Humira are effective for treating your condition.

These drugs are both used to treat plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. In addition, both drugs are used for other purposes. (To learn more, see the “What are Otezla and Humira used for?” section above.)

Studies of Otezla and Humira have found both drugs to be effective for treating these conditions.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends both Otezla and Humira as treatment options in its psoriasis treatment guidelines. In addition, the American College of Rheumatology recommends both drugs as treatment options in its psoriatic arthritis treatment guidelines.

If you’d like to learn more about how each drug performed in clinical studies, see the prescribing information for Otezla and Humira.

Otezla or Humira may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Talk with your doctor about your health history before you take either drug.

Boxed warnings for Humira

Humira has boxed warnings. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous. (Otezla does not have boxed warnings.)

Risk of serious infections. Humira works by weakening your immune system. Because of this, using Humira could raise your risk of serious infections, such as tuberculosis (TB). Serious infections may lead to a hospital stay or even be fatal. And if you have an active* infection, using Humira could make it worse. Before you start treatment with Humira, your doctor will test you for TB and check for any other active infections. If you do have an infection, your doctor will likely want to treat it first.

Risk of cancer. Drugs such as Humira can raise your risk of lymphomas and other cancers. Tell your doctor if you’ve had cancer or any tumors in the past. This will help them determine whether Humira or another treatment might be best for you.

* An infection is active if it’s currently causing symptoms.

Other warnings

In addition to the boxed warnings described above, the lists below include warnings for Otezla and Humira.

Before using Otezla or Humira, talk with your doctor if you have any of the following conditions or health factors.

These lists may not contain all warnings for Otezla and Humira. For more information about these drugs, see these in-depth articles on Otezla and Humira.

It’s possible, depending on the condition you’re using the drug to treat.

Otezla and Humira are both approved for treating plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. If you’re treating one of these conditions, your doctor may have you switch from one of these drugs to the other. But switching from Otezla to Humira is much more likely than switching from Humira to Otezla.

If you’re switching from Otezla to Humira, your doctor may have you “taper” your Otezla dosage. With a drug taper, you gradually lower your dosage over time until you stop taking the drug.

It’s also possible that your doctor may have you stop taking the drug right away without a taper. They’ll determine the best way for you to switch medications.

You shouldn’t switch drugs or change your current treatment unless your doctor recommends it.

It’s unlikely that you’ll use Otezla and Humira together. Current guidelines for treating plaque psoriasis suggest that taking Otezla and Humira together may be beneficial for certain individuals. For treating psoriatic arthritis, current guidelines do not recommend using these drugs together.

More information is needed to know whether it would be safe or effective to use these drugs together. If you have questions about using other medications with Otezla or Humira, talk with your doctor.

Otezla and Humira are both prescription drugs used to treat plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. In addition, they both have other uses as well. (To learn more, see the “What are Otezla and Humira used for?” section above.)

One main difference between Otezla and Humira is how they’re given. Otezla comes as a tablet that you take by mouth twice per day. Humira, on the other hand, comes as a liquid given by subcutaneous injection (an injection given under the skin). How often you’ll receive Humira depends on the condition you’re using the drug to treat. You can either give yourself injections at home or get them in your doctor’s office.

If you have questions about Otezla and Humira, talk with your doctor. Some questions you may consider asking include:

  • Is either Otezla or Humira better for treating my condition?
  • Will Otezla or Humira interact with other medications I’m taking?
  • Will Otezla or Humira affect any other conditions I may have?

To learn more about Otezla, see these articles:

To learn more about Humira, see these articles:

To get information on different conditions and tips for improving your health, subscribe to any of Healthline’s newsletters. You may also want to check out the online communities at Bezzy. It’s a place where people with certain conditions can find support and connect with others.

Q:

Are Otezla and Humira safe for me if I’m over age 65 years?

Anonymous

A:

Possibly. But you may have a higher risk of certain side effects, depending on which drug you use. Below is information from studies of Humira and Otezla.

  • In studies of Humira: People ages 65 years and older who used Humira were more likely to get infections and certain cancers than younger people. Before using Humira, talk with your doctor about your risk of these side effects.
  • In studies of Otezla: People ages 65 years and older who used Otezla had similar side effects as younger people. But it’s important to note that people with severe kidney problems may need a lower dosage of Otezla. And people ages 65 years and older may be more likely to have kidney problems. Before using Otezla, talk with your doctor if you have kidney problems or have had them before.

If you’re over age 65 years, talk with your doctor to learn whether one of these drugs may be right for you

The Healthline Pharmacist TeamAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
Was this helpful?

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.